Machine writing: From meta-knowledge to artificial intelligence

Ludovico_machine_468wAlessandro Ludovico at Eurozine:

The subtle relationship between machines and language has evolved over a reasonably long period but is now accelerating. Soon after the first computers were built, various abstract languages were formulated in order to link these machines' inner mechanisms to processes coded by humans. The man-machine relationship has evolved dramatically since then, especially through the languages used both to instruct the machine and to relate to it. These languages now have a double role: meta-knowledge (language used for the functional description of processes) and content (language processed in various forms but in the end reduced to readable text). The digitalization of everything, by both institutions and private companies, is progressively producing impressive “corpuses” which, in their ethereal digital nature, can be goldmines for neural network software. There's still very little awareness though of the sophisticated strategies that online giants are pursuing with a view to building advanced AI and creating new monopolies in strategic services. While Google continuously refines its knowledge corpus through the scanning and indexing of texts from the whole Web and all of the printed realm, Apple enhances the credibility (and the emotionality) of Siri in order to affectively engage users; and Facebook attempts to customize and shape our entertainment environment as no friend has ever done before. All this is based on data, and text and words are among the purest data (basic in structure and extremely rich in meanings) that can be used, once properly contextualized.

There's a small selection of software “literature” in various formats that has almost no perceivable machine “accent” whatsoever. Tweetbots (software that algorithmically composes tweets according to certain strategies) for example, have to be very synthetic. Among the literary ones we find portmanteau_botcreating new portmanteau words every hour, including some quite interesting ones from time to time (a “portmanteau word” is the fusion of different words or parts of words, a term derived from Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass).

more here.